Tawfiq Salsa's work in new Banksy show
Tawfiq Salsa is a Palestinian artist and craftsman from Beit Sahour, Bethlehem who works carving olivewood, some of which we sell here at Amos.
In 2007 as an act of quiet resistance, he made a ‘walled nativity set’ - a nativity scene where the wall stopped the wise men from getting through to the Holy Family. Tawfiq said “I made these sets as a protest at what is happening to the local community of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour”.
Beit Sahour (the Shepherds Fields) - is in the Bethlehem area, where 87% of the land has been taken by the Israelis. They are surrounded by the wall and their freedom of movement is denied.
Now another work of his comes into the limelight. Tawfiq was under curfew by the Israeli army for six months of 2002. During this time he put his skill to good use and built a model of the Old City of Jerusalem. He made his olive wood Jerusalem completely from memory. It reflected his quiet resistance to occupation and curfew and to the brutal oppression of his people. This remarkable achievement filled one of the rooms of his house and for some years he was uncertain what to do with it.
However this work it came to the attention of graffiti artist Banksy, who saw the beauty and strength of this model of Jerusalem. The model is now it is in Banksy's new exhibition in Bristol, Banksy v the Bristol Museum. Banksy has added watchtowers and soldiers to the original model
Tawfiq Salsaa was at the opening night of the exhibition and was reunited with his model. He said he was astonished to see it in such a place; “It looks much nicer than I remembered! I like the idea of putting watchtowers and soldiers - it brings it to life - it’s as if Jerusalem is under curfew.” It is a very timely work as many of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are currently being evicted from their homes. The exhibition Banksy v Bristol Museum is on until 31st August. Admission is free. Open Daily 10am - 5pm
Tawfiq’s Walled Nativity sets are available from the Amos shop.
At Greenbelt 2008 Garth Hewitt gave a talk entitled ‘The strange but true story of Tawfiq Salsaa's Walled Nativity”. You can download the talk here.